Alumni Spotlight: Michael Immel

Fifty years ago, Michael determined he would become an actor. For several decades he worked around the world on stage, on film, in print, and on the air, racking up serious time as Sesame Street Live characters, Barkley the dog and Oscar the Grouch. In 2008, after securing a Master’s in theater, Michael ran the inter-collegiate forensics squad at Chapman University. Then, in 2010, the world of ESL called and he embarked on a new career, indulging his second favorite passion: travel. Michael has worked in South Korea on the faculty of the Daegu Gyeongbuk English Village, and in Saudi Arabia at King Saud University and the Alfaisal International Academy in Riyadh.

Interview with Michael, Teaching House CELTA student in New York City

Why did you decide to take your CELTA course with Teaching House?

Michael: As an ESL teacher, I had explored my options of taking a CELTA course for quite some time. The English department at King Saud University (where I was working at the time) was considering offering a course, but that never transpired. As a confirmed tourist/world traveler, I hoped to combine economy with exotic location. Thus, I checked out a location in Thailand that seemed to offer what I needed, but the staff was so unhelpful, rude, and generally negative, so I abandoned the idea of getting the certificate.

Then, my new gig in Korea got postponed, just long enough to take the Teaching House intensive CELTA course in New York. The school happened to be a mere two blocks from a friend’s apartment! The staff at Teaching House was so cheerful, helpful, and understanding that I just had to sign up! All the stars aligned. Voila!

What made this experience unique and special?

Michael: First of all, the location and timing made it special. Most of all, what made it special, was the quality and character of everyone involved - I do mean EVERYONE, right down to the doorman of the building! I got into town a couple of days early and wanted to reconnoiter. I was in very early on the Saturday before my course began, so there was only one gentleman at the desk. He gave me the complete tour, including showing me where I could find the extra paper clips I might need later. That set the tone. Everyone, even the staff of the school who shared the space, went out of their way to ensure I had the best training. They shared their experiences, insights, observations, and pedagogical materials so generously, always making sure I had the educational and emotional support I needed. They threw me a party on my birthday!

Interview with Michael, Teaching House CELTA student in New York City

How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, etc)

Michael: ESL, in and of itself, is a community. This CELTA class created its own brother/sisterhood within that larger community with its own special bonds. We are, as all of us will tell you, the Best Class Ever! As we move apart, we will maintain contact all over the world, sharing experiences, job contacts, teaching tips, as our own professional support group.

What is one piece of advice you would offer to someone considering an in-person CELTA course?

Michael: Take your time and spread the experience out. Avoid the intensive course if you can, if only for your emotional health.